The Breakers Palm Beach’s wine director and master sommelier, Virginia Philip, may be proof that the polyphenols in wine keep us young. With more energy than a whirling dervish, she is always on the move. Bags packed, Philip is sends off to her annual winemaking trip in the Languedoc region of France. Each June, she and a select entourage blend and bottle the hotel’s famous private-label chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.
How long have you been making this wine pilgrimage to France?
Almost 15 years. I thought it was important to make our own blends because we go over as Americans and put an American palate to what is typically a French-style wine. We work with the Mas la Chevalière winery because, like us, they are a family-owned business.
Sounds like an incredible field trip.
We usually take a tour of the vineyards on the first day. Then, the next two days are spent working with the winemaker. First we blend the whites, followed by the reds. These are our unique, exclusive blends that no one else has; it’s something we are quite proud of that our customers love and enjoy.
Where can we find these private-label wines?
By the glass throughout the Breakers Palm Beach property at its restaurants; the full bottles are sold at our News & Gourmet store for $28.
On your arrival card, do you check this off as a trip for business or pleasure?
Business, but there is always room for pleasure at the end.
What are some of your most pleasurable detours?
We take time to benchmark other wineries as well as restaurants or experiences in the culinary field. We have spent time in Paris, Lyon, Spain and Italy. I love the architecture in the towns of Montpellier, Beaune and Champagne. In Paris, there is so much to see and do, including a meal at La Rôtisserie d’Argent, across from Notre Dame, and also at the Mini Palais.
Share with us three of your favorite light wines that are perfect for summer.
Te Mata sauvignon blanc, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand; Château Léoube Rosé de Léoube, Côtes de Provence, France; Ziata chardonnay, Carneros, Calif.
If you were not a sommelier, you would be working in what field?
I love looking at buildings, so perhaps I would be an interior designer or an architect. But really, I can’t imagine doing anything else